Graffiti art needs heart


by Natasha Young

Photo Courtesy of

Graffiti art and tagging are both forms of street expression, however they represent very different messages and philosophies.

According to KPCC, a local radio news source, “LA scrubs away 30 million square feet of graffiti each year.” Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, says “We got very carsick as we drove around every block of every street of every neighborhood, and counted 27,754 graffiti tags in one day in one of fifteen council districts.” This clearly shows that graffiti, especially in cosmopolitan places like Los Angeles, is an issue. Private property should be respected by those who own it, and placing a tag on something that one does not own is unjust. Therefore, tagging is wrong but does not apply to other forms of graffiti.

Last fall, a graffiti painting entitled Girl with Red Balloon by Banksy was sold for $1.4 million and the piece then immediately shredded itself. Banksy is the most famous of the graffiti artists known for his sharp political commentary and he has been nearly welcomed by the entire art world. Despite Banksy’s skill or wit that valued his work $1.4 million, his work is still a form of graffiti.

  The concept of street art, whether commissioned or created without consent, is a philosophy that art should be free for the public. Here in LA, citizens can take for granted the street art readily available for contemplation or enjoyment and it is taken as art. However, tagging is the complete opposite of that philosophy. Tagging is essentially claiming someone else’s private property, which is not an artistic statement. Therefore, the line between art and tagging can be drawn. If the art’s primary objective is to spread a message to a common public, other than the artist’s love for themselves or image of self-importance, it should be regarded as art.

By determining the purpose of the creator, a poem can be deciphered and a painting understood. However, in the case of street art’s validity as art, purpose is everything. It is by this logic that graffiti art, other than tagging, is art and should be regarded as so.

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